Being brutally honest, there’s not much going on in Final Exam. Sure, I love it and it made it to the Top 100 ’round here, but as far as seminal 80s slasher films go, it’s probably not going to be remembered by many.
The reason I like it, apart from superbly likeable final girl Courtney, is that it put more effort into character than many contemporaries. And as such, we celebrate one of its most memorable facets – Radish.
What’s he do?: Radish is the know-all type at Lanier College, celebrating the end of his exams by opening a bottle of Bourbon (was it Bourbon? I can’t remember) and finally working up the nerve to tell best friend Courtney that he kinda, sorta, might like her…
But isn’t he…? Textually, no, and I’ve no idea if Joel S. Rice is, but you wouldn’t much in the way of intuitive deduction skills to conclude it from his camp delivery and general… ‘swishyness’. VeVo does not discriminate though (duh!)
Why we love him: Radish goes all out to save the day, after failing to convince the police of the threat, his first thought is to save Courtney – which doesn’t end so well for him.
Seems that Rice went on to enjoy a notable career as a producer. Bonus yays.
COLD PREY II
“Revenge is best served cold.”
A.k.a. Cold Prey: Resurrection
Director: Mats Stenberg / Writers: Thomas Moldestad, Martin Sundland, Roar Uthaug, Axel Hellstenius, Marius Vibe / Cast: Ingrid Bolso Berdad, Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik, Kim Arne Hagen, Fridtjov Saheim, Per Schaaning, Johanna Morck, Mats Eldoen, Andreas Cappelen, Robert Follin.
Body Count: 8
In terms of creating a sequel that picks up immediately after the events of the first film, Cold Prey II gets a big fat tick for getting it right.
While on the surface it will appear as little more than a Halloween II rip off, the continuity in play stomps that film to dust, as does the ratcheted up tension, equalling the first film when it comes to edge of your seat fear for people walking around the dark, empty corridors of a clinic.
A day or so after surviving the attack of the hulking Fjellmannen, Jannicke is rescued by a patrol car after her group’s car is reported as being seen abandoned in the mountains. She wakes up later in the soon-to-be-closed clinic in town, police and staff at the foot of her bed anxious to know what happened.
While she recovers, the cops locate the crevasse where the bodies were dumped and repatriate them to the morgue. Meanwhile, the skeleton staff at the clinic are preparing to move on to new lives: Future doctor Camilla is struggling with the desires of her boyfriend, Ole, and fighting off the flirtation of Herman, the remaining doc, and nurse Audhild wants to party and perhaps get it on with rookie cop Svarre, who’s stationed at the clinic while the others investigate the ski lodge of death.
Jannicke asks if she can see her friends, resulting in the sad scene where she gets to say goodbye, with all the previous actors returning to play their dead selves, but the fifth body bag that contains their killer is also there and later, when being prepped for embalming, it appears he’s not so dead after all and the medics stick by their oath and resuscitate.
Of course, you can never keep a slasher movie killer down, and he’s soon up and slashing, bludgeoning, and breaking the necks of anybody unlucky enough to cross his path. Jannicke is soon engaged in another game of hide and seek, trying to save pre-teen Daniel from being pick-axed, while the police chief tries to learn the truth behind the identity of the Fjellmannan.
Despite Jannicke’s protests, nobody listens and people keep going into the clinic to try and shoot him, until he gets away and heads back to the lodge for the final scrap.
Cold Prey II is, to the original, as Aliens is to Alien - the budget has been cranked and with it the action and special effects inserts. Jannicke’s yearn to survive has been traded with a thirst for violent revenge, and she’s thrown around, through glass tables and into walls a lot more than the first time. She also shares some of the final girl duties with Camilla, who supplies the running and hiding side of affairs early on – though I think in the interests of the film’s emotional punch, she should’ve been made another victim. Ooh, harsh.
An amazing accomplishment for a sequel of any stature, it really is a continuation rather than a retread, addressing lots of those ‘well, what happened next?’ questions that crop up: We see the cops/rescue squad photographing and cataloguing the victims, the beginning of the official investigation, and Jannicke’s gradual ‘comedown’ – it’s just all thwarted by the reactivation of the killer. Things also end properly and very finally, with Cold Prey III sensibly opting to go back to days of olde and act as the origin tale.
“This isn’t Hell – it’s Holland.”
Director/Writer: Nick Jongerius / Writers: Suzy Quid & Chris W. Mitchell / Cast: Charlotte Beaumont, Patrick Baladi, Bart Klever, Noah Taylor, Fiona Hampton, Tanroh Ishida, Adam Thomas Wright, Ben Batt.
Body Count: 9
I love the Dutch, so happy, but The Netherlands haven’t contributed much in the way of slasher films over the years. In fact, I think the last time their shores were home to a hack n’ slash killer was 1988’s rather good Amsterdamned.
The Windmill Massacre begins looking like it’ll be a great companion piece to Iceland’s Harpoon: Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre: Both are in English, with a hotch-potch of characters from various nations boarding a tourist trip that ends up escorting them to hell.
While Harpoon culminated in pivoting black humour in its series of gory denouements, The Windmill Massacre switches from straight up stalk n’ slash to something more aligned with the likes of Reeker, Ghost Ship, or – ugh – Jack the Reaper.
Among the doomed tourists who board the Happy Holland minibus to tour windmills is Australian au pair Jennifer, who’s on the run from the police after she lied to her host family about her identity, ’cause she did something bad; Jack, a British squaddie laying low because he did something bad; arsey businessman Douglas (naturally British) and his teenage son Curt; struggling French photographer Ruby; Japanese student Takashi, who keeps talking of his late grandmother; and secretive artist Nicholas, who is having flashbacks to something bad he did.
Yeah, they’re all sinners in some capacity, and when the bus breaks down on a back road miles from anywhere and somehow topples into a pond, the group are forced to take shelter in an old shack. Jennifer tries to convince the others that there’s a sickle-wielding monster in the woods who killed one of the others, but the fact her empty prescription bottle rolled down the bus earlier means nobody believes her. Haemophiliac Curt gets cut and needs medical attention, which repeatedly sends people to go looking for help at the rundown windmill nearby.
One by one, they’re done in by a sub-Jeepers Creepers ghoul who provides neat hallucinations related to their sin, slaughters them and hangs them out to dry in the windmill. Numbers dwindle as each sin is exposed, leading to a bloodthirsty, downbeat climax, which at least the film had the balls to follow through with.
Unfortunately, I saw nearly every plot twist coming. Not the film’s fault, but familiarity breeds contempt, and I wasn’t particularly invested in anything or anybody, no matter how inventive they tried to make it, like killing off the assumed hero first. Nicely made, but the homeland’s charms aren’t utilised enough to make it any more than mildly diverting.
Blurb-of-interest: Patrick Baladi was in Demons Never Die.
In this feature, Vegan Voorhees examines those jaw-dropping revelations that the slasher film loves to bat our way from the blue, like a pushy parent tossing softballs at a kid who doesn’t want to learn baseball.
This month, we slide dirgey, cheapo 1981 slasher The Dorm That Dripped Blood under the terrorscope. If you haven’t seen it, beware humongaloid SPOILERS…
Set Up: College students who board at Morgan Meadows Hall are closing down the place for its imminent bulldozing. Good job too, it’s a right shitheap. Anyway, the handful of them sticking around during the holidays are picked off one by one by a shadowy killer. But who? And why? Final girl Joanne will save the day!
Twist: No she won’t. Once everyone’s dead and all red herrings off the hook, the real killer – smartmouth joker Craig – reveals himself to Joanne, tells her he loves her and will kill anyone who stands in the way of their love… AND THEN THROWS HER IN THE FURNACE!
The final shot is Craig being led to safety, while smoke billows from the furnace behind him as Joanne roasts away.
Problems with this revelation: The film is grimy enough without this downbeat ending stapled on, which lets Craig get away with his crime. Not that Joanne was the best heroine, but even so, the attempt at keeping things dark goes beyond the usual killer-is-still-out-there stuff into a place that just doesn’t work. No, I say. No.
Likely Explanation: The Dorm That Dripped Blood has little going for it to make it stand out. It plods along in underlit doldrums, with a few sticky murders chucked in, possibly realising the audience is slowly lapsing into a coma, so the eyebrow-raising coda was thrown on.